The Joker: Diary of a gig­gling mad­man

Bruce Wayne may have a tor­tured soul, but he’s not get­ting any light re­lief from this clown when­ever he’s in town…

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Bat­man’s neme­sis The Joker first ap­peared in is­sue 1 of the Bat­man comic, in 1940. He had a white face, a per­pet­ual grin and ev­ery­thing about him shrieked ‘fun gone wrong’.

In Fe­bru­ary 1978 The Joker took cen­tre stage on the cover of De­tec­tive Comics is­sue 475, hold­ing two fish as though they were pis­tols. Sin­is­ter and scary but loopy enough to be funny, the plot tells of how he’s poi­soned the fish so that they de­velop faces just like his. Then he de­mands a cut of all fish sales in Gotham.

Re­cent decades have seen a far darker side to The Joker, epit­o­mised in the 1988 graphic novel The Killing Joke, pen­cilled by Brian Bol­land and writ­ten by Alan Moore. The fol­low­ing year, Dave McKean and Grant Mor­ri­son’s Arkham Asy­lum ar­rived. Dave had painted the 128-page treat in his inim­itable multimedia style. Here The Joker and Two-Face take over the asy­lum.

Of course, while Bat­man is ob­sessed with keep­ing The Joker be­hind bars, the mad clown him­self is ob­sessed with bring­ing down the bat. This is re­flected in artist Jock’s strik­ing, graphic cover for De­tec­tive Comics 880. “I just wanted to try and show the most un­hinged Joker im­age that I could. The guy is a to­tal nut­case, so I feel I wouldn’t be do­ing my job if I didn’t make it slightly un­set­tling to look at,” he says.

BAT OUT OF HELL In July 2011, Jock’s cover demon­strated that The Joker’s very ex­is­tence is de­fined by his old ad­ver­sary.

ON A SCALE

OF ONE

TO crazy Mar­shall Rogers and Terry Austin worked on The Laugh­ing Fish, a kooky Bat­man clas­sic.

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